Tobacco Storage

FAQs, info, etc. No horsing around. The librarian is a brute.
Post Reply
User avatar
Zed
Cross threaded, Self Quoting, One Pluser
Cross threaded, Self Quoting, One Pluser
Posts: 13464
Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 6:00 pm
Location: Howard City, Michigan
Contact:

Tobacco Storage

Post by Zed » Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:28 pm

All the kinds of tobacco has a different shelf life. Aromatics being the shortest and Virginias being the longest.

If your tobacco is not an aromatic or is cased (added flavors natural or not) and it is sealed in a a tin it will last for years as is. However, once you introduce air many things happen and the oxidation begins.

Some aromatics can last for nearly a year most less than 6 months and some as little as one. There are too many to give a list you will have to discover this on your own.

Best to take note of the smell of the tobacco when you open the tin and after time as passed smell it each time. If the odor is signifigantly different then it has gone bad.

Glass jars are the best storage containers hands down. Mason jars are very effective and are inexpensive and can be purchased in any grocery store, most department stores, and most hardware stores. Glass will not let out nor let in anything. The rubber seal also does it's part.

It is not recommened to heat seal your jars. This treatment will change the tobacco on a molecular level. Some say it makes no difference. Make your own decision.

Do not use plastic containers and certainly do not use plastic bags. Most plastic containers have plasticisors added to them to make them soft and survive UV rays etc. These compounds in most plastics leech. This will in turn add flavors to your tobacco.

If you wish to keep your tobacco in it's tin after opening then close the tin and place in a sealed container like tupperware. Opened tins will not keep in or out anything in the air. Such as flavors and moisture.
YEAH COBS

User avatar
Spyderweb
Brother of the Briar
Brother of the Briar
Posts: 2481
Joined: Sat May 29, 2010 6:00 pm
Location: Sanford FL

Post by Spyderweb » Fri Sep 17, 2010 4:00 pm

I've pulled a lot of information about storage and aging of pipe tobacco from a number of forums and sites. And I've had some personal experiences also. This is a compilation of all that stuff. Thought I would share...

First, some terminology for this write-up:

Short term / long term: I use a month as a cut-off here. I've noticed that you can store tobacco just about anyway you want (baggies, jars, etc.) and for a month or less it will taste pretty good, but after that if special steps are not taken, sweetness and flavor will be lost. Any time after one month I consider long term.

Storage / aging: These are not the same. When I refer to aging, I am referring to a long term process that slowly changes the tobacco (hopefully for the better). When I refer to storage, I am referring to preserving the tobacco as it is now, both short and long term. Ideally concerning storage, the tobacco will be unchanged from when it was originally purchased, or the seal was broken on the container of some tobacco which has been aging.

The reason for this write-up is because of my initial tobacco purchases. When I first got into pipe smoking, I bought a lot of tobacco, both in tins and in bulk, and opened all of them up and smoked them. I had read a lot of articles saying you should store your tobacco in mason jars, so I purchased a number of mason jars and stored my tobacco in them. I assumed that since I had everything stored correctly, that I would be able to smoke my tobacco over the next few months or years, and it would taste as good or better in the future as it did when I first got the tobacco. WRONG! At first I thought maybe I was imagining it, or maybe my tastes were changing. But it soon was undeniable - most of my tobacco was losing its sweetness, and then soon after that, losing its flavor as well. What I was left with, at least for most tobaccos that were not a strong aromatic, or English / VaPer blends, was tobacco that pretty much smoked like a cigar. Generally a nice cigar, but still a cigar. Now, I like smoking cigars, but when I want something that smokes like a cigar, I'll smoke a cigar, thank you very much. I started smoking pipes because I wanted something with some different flavors, and now most of my tobaccos are smoking like a cigar. Not good.

Ok, so the first thing you need to consider with your tobacco is what you are trying to accomplish with it. By this I mean, are you looking to improve the flavor by aging it, or do you want to smoke as it is right now. If you want to smoke it as it right now, you will need to consider what method of storage you should use. If you are looking to improve the flavor, then you need to consider your aging options.

Storage
Pretty much, as soon as you open your tin, or open your mason jar of aged tobacco, or get your bulk tobacco from a retailer, that tobacco will start changing in taste. This will happen differently for every blend, so one blend may start getting nasty in weeks, where another one may take a lot longer before you notice something bad.

If you just want to smoke it in the next few weeks, then you don't need to do anything special for short term storage. You may want to employ the best storage method available to you, so as to keep the sweetness and flavor as much as possible. But other than that, just keep it in the pouch or tin, or transfer it to a baggy or a jar, and you should be ok.

Most of us however smoke a variety of tobaccos, and don't buy a tin or pouch and smoke just that until it's gone. For us we need to look at long term storage, so as much as possible, we can keep the tobacco tasting as good as it is now. The average baggy is not going to work too well for long term storage; all you need to do is take a whiff of the baggy, and you will be able to smell your tobacco. Freezer type baggies may be a bit better, but not by much. Storing your tobacco in something like a mason jar will stop the smell from escaping, but it does not stop the air in the jar from interacting with your tobacco. And every time you open your baggy or jar, you are letting in more air, and probably drying out your tobacco as well. What a number of people do for long term storage, and what they report good results with, is using vacuum sealing. Now, I have tried the cheap manual pumps that work with the special zip lock baggies. And sometimes, the vacuum actually stays for more than a few minutes. However, I've had too many of these baggies lose their vacuum very quickly, so I can't recommend this method. That brings us to the powered vacuum devices, like the Food Saver devices. You can use either the thick vacuum bags, or if you have a unit that can handle it, you can use mason jars. In either case (and I don't know which works best - bags or jars) the air is removed, and therefore can't have a negative impact on your tobacco. How long will this extend the life of your tobacco? I don't know, but I am getting one of the powered vacuum devices soon, and hopefully can provide an update at some point.

Aging
If you want to set aside tobacco with the hopes of it getting better over the months, or better yet, years, then you want to age your tobacco. Some tobacco does better than others when it comes to aging. The best blends to age are those that are either non-aromatic or are only a little aromatic. Your drugstore tobaccos are not going to age well. Also, blends that are mostly Virginia, with perhaps some condiment tobaccos added (English and VaPer blends) do well. Other blends may not get any better, and may in fact lose a lot if they are aged.

If your tobacco is in a sealed tin, then you are set. Tins generally do well for 10-20 years. At some point though, the gasket in the tin will begin to fail, and at that point any further aging in the tin will be harmful rather than helpful.

Tobaccos from pouches / baggies / plastic containers / etc. will need to be transferred to another container. And the container of choice for most people is the mason jar. Make sure the jar is clean and dry. Also, if the jar was used previously, make sure to start with a fresh lid. Reusing an old lid can result in bad seals, or smells/tastes from the prior usage ruining your tobacco. When filling the jar, some people leave a bit of space in the jar for air. Others fill it to the top, or maybe even compress the tobacco a bit (but not too much). Some people who have vacuum sealers remove some of the air, but most people do not recommend that. When it comes to aging, the air is a critical component, and if you remove some or all of it, then the aging process will not work right. And this is a process; the tobacco is not just getting older, it is going thru a process with the air, the tobacco, and (some say) the microbes in that mixture. To allow this process of aging to continue in an optimum manner, the jars should be stored in a cool, dry area, out of direct contact with the sun. And, do not open that jar until you are ready to smoke your tobacco. How long do you need to wait? There are no hard and fast rules that I know of, but the process does not really start until after a few months; most people suggest a year or more before you start to notice a difference.

User avatar
Spyderweb
Brother of the Briar
Brother of the Briar
Posts: 2481
Joined: Sat May 29, 2010 6:00 pm
Location: Sanford FL

Post by Spyderweb » Sat Apr 16, 2011 11:34 am

Just an update on vacuum sealing...

I got a vacuum sealer around 6 months or more ago. Sealed some of my tobacco in jars, and other in bags. After 6 months, both methods worked equally as well, and both methods did a remarkable job keeping the tobacco tasting like it did when first opened.

If I were to store these same tobaccos in jars, without vacuum sealing, they would have lasted no more than a month.

If you finish your tobacco a month or less after smoking that first bowl, then continue on as you are. But, if you are like me, and have a lot of different blends open, then I would highly recommend getting a vacuum sealer. It will more than pay for the initial investment in a very short time. I probably had $100 to $200 of tobacco go bad those first few months I started smoking a pipe. You can buy a good vacuum sealer for that much, and thereafter you won't be tossing your tobacco because it lost its flavor.

Update 01/2012
I still vacuum seal my tobacco, but have pretty much stopped using the vacuum seal bags. I've found that after several months, even the vacuum seal bags start to dry out and lose flavor. I now use only Mason jars and vacuum seal them.

User avatar
mont974x4
It's gotten old now
It's gotten old now
Posts: 7976
Joined: Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:00 pm
Location: Montana

Post by mont974x4 » Sun Dec 22, 2013 8:27 pm

What lid do you use when vacuum sealing the jars?
It sounded better when the voices in my head were saying it.

Ire attracter-at-large and general misanthrope.

User avatar
Spyderweb
Brother of the Briar
Brother of the Briar
Posts: 2481
Joined: Sat May 29, 2010 6:00 pm
Location: Sanford FL

Post by Spyderweb » Sun Dec 22, 2013 9:56 pm

mont974x4 wrote:What lid do you use when vacuum sealing the jars?
You can use either size lid (regular or wide) for vacuum sealing. I prefer the wide lid jars - just makes it easier to reach in and get the tobacco. As far as what I use for sealing, I use a regular house-hold vacuum sealer (like a Food Saver) that has a port that a hose attaches to, and on the other end of the hose you attach the mason jar attachment. Put the lid on the jar, the attachment over the lid, press the canister button and you there you go. When it is done, just remove the hose, then the attachment, screw on the band over the lid and you're done.

User avatar
mont974x4
It's gotten old now
It's gotten old now
Posts: 7976
Joined: Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:00 pm
Location: Montana

Post by mont974x4 » Sun Dec 22, 2013 10:00 pm

Thanks! I have a Food Saver and have a few lid attachment things. I haven't used the special attachments.
It sounded better when the voices in my head were saying it.

Ire attracter-at-large and general misanthrope.

User avatar
Monarchist
In Memoriam
Posts: 4749
Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:00 pm
Location: The beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

Post by Monarchist » Sun Dec 22, 2013 11:20 pm

There's no need to vacuum seal you jars. In fact, if I recall, drawing a vacuum will be detrimental to the aging process, as it requires some air. I simply put on the lids tightly and after a short while they self-sealed, and as Rusty promised, on occasion , the lids would play me a symphony. :wink:
"Never say that God is just. If He were just you would be in hell. Rely only on His injustice which is mercy, love, and forgiveness." - St. Isaac the Syrian

User avatar
Spyderweb
Brother of the Briar
Brother of the Briar
Posts: 2481
Joined: Sat May 29, 2010 6:00 pm
Location: Sanford FL

Post by Spyderweb » Mon Dec 23, 2013 8:07 am

Monarchist wrote:There's no need to vacuum seal you jars. In fact, if I recall, drawing a vacuum will be detrimental to the aging process, as it requires some air. I simply put on the lids tightly and after a short while they self-sealed, and as Rusty promised, on occasion , the lids would play me a symphony. :wink:
That is all explained in my write-up above.

User avatar
Rusty
In Memoriam
Posts: 25059
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 6:00 pm
Location: Beelzebub's Rare Tobacco Emporium

Post by Rusty » Mon Dec 23, 2013 8:58 am

Spyderweb wrote:
Monarchist wrote:There's no need to vacuum seal you jars. In fact, if I recall, drawing a vacuum will be detrimental to the aging process, as it requires some air. I simply put on the lids tightly and after a short while they self-sealed, and as Rusty promised, on occasion , the lids would play me a symphony. :wink:
That is all explained in my write-up above.
Ah yes. Mon it turns out that tobacco's voyage through time isn't smooth. Mathematicians would call it piecewise continuous. There are at least two domains with a corner between. For hobby smokers the jars are all little humidors rather than sealed aging pots. Going in and out of them changes the air in the jar and the tobacco is affected. By eliminating the air, more or less, they convince the tobacco that it's not traveling in time.
You're out of the woods
You're out of the dark
You're out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light

User avatar
mrzed
Congregation
Congregation
Posts: 92
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2014 4:36 am
Location: North Carolina
Contact:

Re: Tobacco Storage

Post by mrzed » Sun Oct 05, 2014 5:34 am

Does storing your containers of tobacco in a refrigerator make any difference? Good, bad, neutral?
Being bald is about attitude. http://www.slybaldguys.com

User avatar
Michael Kindt
Congregation
Congregation
Posts: 158
Joined: Thu Sep 25, 2014 10:38 am
Location: South Dakota

Re: Tobacco Storage

Post by Michael Kindt » Sun Oct 05, 2014 6:04 am

Refrigerators are very drying. Air from the inside of the refrigerator is exposed to cold refrigerant that is circulating through the refrigerator coils. As you probably know from watching moisture condense on a window on a cold winter day, or water droplets on a bottle of refrigerated soda pop sitting out of the fridge, cold causes moisture to condense out of the air, and so the air inside a refrigerator has low humidity. Uncovered food in the refrigerator is therefore exposed to that dry air and tends to dry out faster than if it had been exposed to humid air. Back in my kitchen days we knew that most produce suffered from refrigeration. There is a semi-sealed crisper drawer in most modern fridges for a reason.

Having said all that, correctly sealed tobacco in a fridge would probably just be put in slow motion...virginias would age slower, for example, but conversely other tobaccos may be given longer life. Not sure. I would strongly recommend sealing any tobacco that would be stored in such a dry environment, either in unopened tins or mason jars.

I myself don't use the fridge for tobacco storage and wouldn't. That's where beer goes!
"Mediocrity is the hallmark of popularity." --Niles Crane

User avatar
bryanlefever
Pastor
Pastor
Posts: 851
Joined: Sun Sep 27, 2009 6:00 pm
Location: Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan
Contact:

Re: Tobacco Storage

Post by bryanlefever » Sun Oct 05, 2014 8:58 pm

I really need to stop opening multiple tins at the same time. I have so many sample bags and half tins laying around I don't have a clue how old stuff is. Aiming for opening a tin and finishing.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
"A Pipe Gives A Wise Man Time To Think, And A Fool Something To Stick In His Mouth"

User avatar
coco
Uniquely Duggish
Uniquely Duggish
Posts: 27878
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:00 pm
Location: Sweet Home Alabama
Contact:

Re: Tobacco Storage

Post by coco » Mon Oct 06, 2014 7:25 am

bryanlefever wrote:I really need to stop opening multiple tins at the same time. I have so many sample bags and half tins laying around I don't have a clue how old stuff is. Aiming for opening a tin and finishing.
I can relate
"Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a cob with a forever lucite stem." (Pipverbs 1:1)
"No more signatures that quote other CPS members." - Thunk

Post Reply